Friday, January 07, 2005

Article of Mass Distortion

An article by Brent Bozell recently came to my attention. It is, simply put, a perfect example of Paleo-Con stupidity and the kind of misdirection and lies that the author condemns in his book, "Weapons of Mass Distortion."

The article in question, "Winners and losers, 2004," provides the reader with a brief description of what the author believes to be the high and low points of entertainment in 2004. Though it's not a terribly inspired article, it makes some Michael Medvedesque points about how Hollywood goes out of it's way to ignore productions that might cater towards families and conservatives (indeed, he quotes Medved). I’m inclined to agree. But then there's the following passage:

Loser: "South Park." The producers of this curdled, malodorous black hole of Comedy Central vomit want to elicit only one sentence from viewers: "Did I just see that on television?" For anyone who thinks television today is not as offensive -- and downright stupid as those "prudes" say it is, we suggest a look at the Dec. 1 episode. At the South Park "Whore-Off" competition, Paris Hilton inserts an entire pineapple into her vagina. A gay man in a biker vest then takes off his pants and puts the entire body of Paris Hilton up his rectum. Remember this episode the next time some TV critic raves about the "talent" behind "South Park."

Before continuing, it is well worth mentioning that Mr. Bozell's description of the conclusion of episode 812, "Stupid Spoiled Whore" is--technically speaking--100% accurate. The events, so far as he describes them, transpire exactly as he states. Of course, many of the things in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 were--technically speaking--100% accurate. They were still lies. Such is the case with Bozell's smearing of South Park.

The episode begins with the grand opening of a new store at the South Park Mall called "Stupid Spoiled Whore." The store caters towards girls and is the exlcusive retailer of products endorsed by its patron, hotel heiress Paris Hilton, such as:

1. Tot-sized thongs;
2. Paris Hilton's new perfume "Skanque";
3. The "Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Play Set," a toy which allows girls to broadcast homemade porn (ala the sex tape which somehow catapulted Ms. Hilton to celebritydom) and comes complete with a video camera, kid-sized condoms, ecstasy pills, and a losable cell phone.

All of the girls in South Park are enraptured with the store and quickly persuade their parents (generally, their mothers) to buy these products, so that they can be more like their heroine, Ms. Hilton, who is onsite to dedicate the store.

All the girls, that is, except for the rather precocious Wendy Testaburger, an eight-year old South Park student who thinks that the talentless and vapid Ms. Hilton is a terrible paragon. Unfortunately, Wendy is unable to persuade her playmates, who spend the rest of the episode trying to emulate Ms. Hilton's hyper-sexuality. Unsure of who to turn to, Wendy consults Mr. Garrison, her fourth-grade teacher, and his boyfriend, Mr. Slave, the gay man who Mr. Bozell described in his article.

Though Mr. Slave is a self-admitted whore, he is horrified that anyone--least of all fourth-grade girls--would hold either him or Hilton up as role models. He confronts Ms. Hilton on the matter, who dismisses him as not being on her level of whoredom, and promptly challenges him to the "Whore-off" Mr. Bozell took so much offense at. After Hilton's rather spectacular "exit," the townsfolk cheer Mr. Slave, who promptly chastises them for over-sexualizing their daughters and encouraging behavior that can only lead to future promiscuity. Mr. Bozell didn't tell you that, now did he?

South Park is not for everybody (certainly not for children), and I resisted it for years, finding the humor not worth the vulgarity. However, the show had greatly improved by its third season and--while it is still vulgar and crude--it's now infinitely funnier than it was initially, and is blatantly libertarian and often traditionalist in its politics. The show is openly hostile to sexual harassment legislation, environmentalism, and the "tolerance" movement, and consistently embraces the idea that children are best raised by their parents, not by incompetent teachers, do-gooder liberals, and anyone else who does not have their best interests at heart.

It is also worth noting that Parker and Stone are also the creators of Team America, the only major Hollywood release to address, let alone condone, the War on Terror. Of all popular entertainment aimed at young people in America today, South Park is one of--if not the--most likely to persuade them of the value of conservative principles. And fart jokes.

48 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

Excellent post.

In Mr. Bozell's defense, I watched this episode on the recommendation of a friend. I was as shocked by the final scene as, apparently, he was.

It was only on a second viewing -- since it seemed to me to be the most brilliant takedown of a celebrity I'd seen in awhile -- that I got the message underlying the shock value of that scene. I'm no prude, but wow, that was something new.

I didn't like South Park much during it's earlier days, but having seen this ep and the season opener, where the Parkers take down PETA and P. Diddy's "Vote or Die" campaign, that they are doing some of their best work.

And what other tv shows can you see bears mining for coal?

January 10, 2005 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Ian Dew-Becker said...

I think South Park qualifies much more as libertarian than conservative. Many of the things it preaches, such as gay rights and freedom of expression even when it offends christians, are things that the modern conservative movement simply no longer endorses. There was a time when the conservative part of the government might have been in agreement with Matt and Trey, but with the rise of the Christian Right, that time has certainly ended.

January 10, 2005 at 3:26 PM  
Blogger Matt J. Duffy said...

Excellent post. I commented a week ago on another classic episode:

http://www.fearlesscritic.blogspot.com/

January 10, 2005 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger T said...

Perhaps Fukuyama was (sort of) right - South Park republicanism is the ultimate end point of human political development...

bilious young fogey

January 10, 2005 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger downtownlad said...

The same people offended by South Park are the same people who

1) Want to take Howard Stern off the air
2) Are offended by a 'Desperate Housewives' promo that shows a woman's back
3) Are up in arms over Janet Jackson's nipple

If you can't deal with modern culture, then get rid of your TV. But please, leave the rest of us alone.

Awesome post man! I will have to read your blog more often.

Downtown Lad

January 10, 2005 at 7:04 PM  
Blogger phuknjrk said...

"it's now infinitely funnier than it was initially"

as the show's turned political, and the processes of it allow it to go fast enough to keep up with current events, I've really lost interest in it.. every episode has to be 'about' something. I remember when Saturday morning cartoons made that switch.. about the same time cartoons started sucking...

January 10, 2005 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger DANEgerus said...

Dude... SouthPark has always been a scream.

January 10, 2005 at 8:54 PM  
Blogger Honus said...

I liked your analysis of the episode. I too think that the show has improved as the seasons passed. It's more than just fart jokes. The difference from my perspective is that the social commentary is valuable, and often feels less contrived than social commentary in movies like "The day after tomorrow."

January 11, 2005 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Mike Sanderson said...

This may be somewhat incoherent, but I'll try to contribute: South Park's increasing incorporation of political satire has provided some of its most brilliant moments--the most explicit example, I think, being "A Ladder to Heaven," which aired before the Iraq war and features President Bush declaring there are weapons of mass destruction in heaven (he bases this on some clouds that appear to be a chemical weapons plant). However, while libertarian may best describe the creators' political sensibilities, South Park has from the beginning driven its humor with scathing, often scatological satire, and this is almost impossible to pin down to political orientation. Fore example, the first season's depiction of Barbara Streisand seemed almost effortless--the humor sharpened because it seemed so obvious. That said, this season's explicitness seems bereft of the lighter, more flowing (and seemingly effortless) satire that was the shows' standard. (In "AWESOM-O", when the military learns of a seemingly super-intelligent robot being used to come up with movie ideas, a general blurts out "We can use the robot to come up with anti-Islamic movies!")

The point shouldn't be that the show should be defended simply for its ideological alignment, or just because if its lack of political alignment. Rather, I think the most offensive aspects can be defended as that segments that went bad. No need to defend their content, only their context.

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